[kuh n-tam-uh-ney-shuh n]


the act of contaminating, or of making something impure or unsuitable by contact with something unclean, bad, etc.
the act of contaminating, or of rendering something harmful or unusable by the addition of radioactive material: the contamination of food following a nuclear attack.
the state of being contaminated: The manufacturer recalled the product because of possible salmonella contamination.
Rare. something that contaminates a place or substance, as by making it impure, unsuitable, harmful, or unusable; a contaminant.
  1. an alternation in a linguistic form due to the influence of a related form, as the replacement in English of earlier femelle with female through the influence of male.
  2. the process of forming blends.Compare blend(def 9).

Origin of contamination

1375–1425; late Middle English contaminacioun < Late Latin contāminātiōn- (stem of contāminātiō), equivalent to contāmināt(us) (see contaminate) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsnon·con·tam·i·na·tion, nounre·con·tam·i·na·tion, nounself-con·tam·i·na·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for contamination

Contemporary Examples of contamination

Historical Examples of contamination

  • He shrank away as if there had been contamination in my touch.

  • I am sorry because I believe there is contamination in such a scoundrel.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • At all events she would be spared the contamination of the factory.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • Put up a forest of props (as at the Abbey) and keep off touch and contamination?

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • Shall I stop the carriage and remove the contamination of my disgusting person?


    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for contamination



the act or process of contaminating or the state of being contaminated
something that contaminates
linguistics the process by which one word or phrase is altered because of mistaken associations with another word or phrase; for example, the substitution of irregardless for regardless by association with such words as irrespective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for contamination

early 15c., from Latin contaminationem (nominative contaminatio), noun of action from past participle stem of contaminare (see contaminate). Figurative sense is from c.1620; specifically of radioactivity from 1913.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

contamination in Medicine




The act or process of rendering something harmful or unsuitable.
The presence of extraneous, especially infectious, material that renders a substance or preparation impure or harmful.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.